If you’ve been stuck inside all winter dreaming of a vacation, why not start planning a springtime road trip for a well-deserved break? Solo road trips are a great opportunity for quiet contemplation and much-needed “me time”. Group adventures in the car will give you plenty of time for bonding and creating lasting memories. If you think a road trip might be the perfect vacation this spring, consider these five tips when you start your planning.

  1. Be properly insured. You should get an insurance quote if you plan to travel in the U.S.; however, since most states don’t have a minimum liability coverage, you might want to consider increasing yours. If you’re feeling very ambitious and plan on driving as far south as Mexico, you will need to buy Mexican auto insurance. Regardless, it’s probably worth talking to your provider before your trip to make sure you are properly protected. In addition, you might want to consider emergency medical insurance if you’re travelling outside of your province. You may also want to invest in trip cancellation/interruption coverage to help cover any non-refundable travel expenses in case your vacation is delayed or cut short due to unforeseen circumstances.
  2. Service your car. Since you’ll be relying on your car for your entire trip, make sure it’s in tip-top shape before you hit the road. The week before you leave might be a great time to book a service appointment for some professional care. If you’re doing it yourself, you’ll want to check the following items:
    • Inspect your tires’ treads and ensure they’re properly inflated;
    • Check your fluid levels, including oil, radiator fluid, brake fluid and transmission fluid;
    • Ensure your lights are all in working order;
    • Replace your windshield wipers if they’re skidding or leaving streaks, and top-up your wiper fluid.
  3. Plan your route in advance. Spontaneity can make for a memorable road trip, but leaving everything up to chance could also make things more stressful than necessary. At the very least, decide on a route and have a rough idea of how much driving you’ll be doing every day. You can book hotel rooms in advance so you’re never stuck without a place to sleep, and research a couple of local attractions and restaurants at each stop so you have a few options for fun when you arrive. You can also pre-load your GPS with the locations of your hotels and must-see attractions to avoid managing these extra details when you’re behind the wheel.
  4. Stock up on snacks. Just like it’s vital that your car is properly fueled for the big trip, it’s important that you take care of yourself along the way. Stock your car with water and healthy snacks. If you’re hungry, you’re more likely to get frustrated behind the wheel. You’ll also save money – paying for meals can quickly add up on a long ride.
  5. Schedule breaks. According to Transport Canada, 60 percent of drivers admit to driving while tired, which is worrisome because an estimated 20 percent of fatal collisions involve driver fatigue. The agency recommends the following tips to help drivers stay alert on long car rides:
    • Share the driving with passengers;
    • Take regular rest stops to get out and stretch;
    • Eat light meals;
    • Drink plenty of water; and
    • If necessary, find a place to pull over and take a nap.

One final tip about planning for a road trip: don’t stress when your plan falls apart. Even if your car breaks down, your most highly-anticipated attraction is unexpectedly closed, or your kids can’t stop bickering in the backseat, you’ll be creating lasting memories that you’ll be able to laugh about…one day.